»Progress in mental health requires combining etiological and treatment research.«
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Margraf
Mechanisms of mental disorders across the life span
A major focus of the research group is the investigation of mechanisms associated with internalizing disorders (e.g., fear conditioning, extinction and renewal, and emotion regulation). In order to obtain a differentiated picture of these mechanisms, we apply psychophysiological methods in addition to self-report. We specifically monitor the two branches of the peripheral nervous system – the sympathetic and the parasympathetic branch – as well as the activity of the central nervous system.
Typically, in psychotherapeutic outpatient clinics, symptom characteristics, severity of disorders and treatment success are assessed using self-report measures and standardized interviews. Physiological or behavioral variables are largely neglected.
Within the framework of the current project we have implemented a short protocol in the routine care of the FBZ: It consists of previously well validated, standardized paradigms. We capture subjective, behavioral and psychophysiological aspects of core mechanisms relevant for the understanding and classification of pathogenic processes and treatment success within the spectrum of internalizing disorders (i.e. emotional perception, emotional regulation, conditioning, extinction, approach and avoidance behavior). In accordance with the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) of the NIMH, we consider mental disorders as dimensional constructs rather than distinct entities.